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20th BMW Art Car by Julie Mehretu Revealed in Paris at the World-Renowned Centre Pompidou

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Filed under Automotive, BMW, News

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Welcome to the enchanting city of Paris for the World Premiere of the 20th BMW Art Car by Julie Mehretu. Based on the BMW M Hybrid V8 endurance racecar, Julie’s rolling masterpiece will join the past 19 BMW Art Cars created since 1975 in collaboration with renowned art icons such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Jeff Koons. More excitingly, the art-of-motion will compete in the storied 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Visiting France in the spring is always a culturally enlightening and refreshing occasion. From historical artifacts to art exhibitions to world sporting events, there is much to see, feel, and explore while journeying through the verdant countryside or the city’s urban landscapes. Visitors’ senses will be opened profusely by charming gardens, the language of love, and educational and omnipresent museums, all while appeasing the appetite with delectable, unforgettable culinary experiences. Moreover, the French province — full of wonder, excitement, and charm –will sit on the world stage as it hosts the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Thus, it is apparent why BMW selected Paris to introduce the prestigious M Hybrid V8 by the prodigiously talented Julie Mehretu, who works out of New York City and Berlin and hails from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. BMW stated that its global cultural commitment is driven by the collaboration of the art world and the automotive performance arena. In fact, Julie and her business partner Mehret Mandefro have cultivated ideologies to help promote the artistic expression of young artists and filmmakers in Africa and provide a medium to showcase their work through BMW resources. Dubbed PanAfrican Translocal Media Workshops, the educational project will visit six African countries and conclude with the 20th BMW Art Car going to the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town in the first half of 2026 for exhibition.

“The whole BMW Art Car project is about invention, about imagination, about pushing limits of what can be possible. I don’t think of this car as something you would exhibit. I am thinking of it as something that will race in Le Mans. It’s a performative painting. My BMW Art Car was created in close collaboration with motorsport and engineering teams,” says Julie Mehretu. “The BMW Art Car is only completed once the race is over.”

BMW’s immersive program leading up to the art car unveil at the world-renowned Centre Pompidou in Paris highlighted the rich heritage and lineage of BMW Art Cars. Media guests toured a few epic exhibits to understand the cinematic depth of visual art. We sat with BMW designers, corporate executives, and Julie to learn about the particular creative process of the racecar. Of course, the past plays a vital role in the future since inputs of the Alexander Calder-designed 1975 BMW 3.0 CSL, the Andy Warhol / BMW M1 / 1979, or the Esther Mahlangu / BMW 525i / 1991 have led to the manifestation of the Julie Mehretu / BMW M Hybrid V8 / 2024.

The BMW M Hybrid V8 is a silent attraction powered by a 4.0-liter V8 engine and a hybrid drive system that generates around 640 horsepower. Its styling is dynamic, featuring a forward-leaning shark nose, wide laser-lit kidneys, iconic twin diagonal headlights, triangular elements that cascade across the vehicle, and some hints of blue and purple highlights to articulate the natural colors of electricity. Increased aerodynamic performance stems from the air that passes beneath and through the wide kidneys, which is fundamental for cooling and efficiency of downforce. It is the perfect vehicle type for the art installation.

At the Centre Pompidou, guests from various walks of life attended the evening celebration to witness a new fusion of expression. Dedicated to modern and contemporary art, the multifaceted glass and metal venue–shaped like a hexagon—is in the Beaubourg plateau, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. Once uncovered, BMW reps and Julie highlighted this undertaking as performative art.

Julie Mehretu’s paintings are kinetic; they showcase movement, so an explosion occurred between the racecar and the art. Specifically, energy, space, and movement have always been themes in her work. This particular design is based on Julie’s painting “Everywhen” (2021 – 2023), gracefully displayed at the Grassi in Venice. Soon, it will become a feature collection at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. Keep in mind that the 20th BMW Art Car has not been painted on directly. Instead, the inspirational motif was digitized, strategically cut, and meticulously wrapped so the work would not negatively impact the vehicle’s racing performance.

It’s fascinating when corporate entities intersect with the consciousness of innovators who positively change the world with their expressions, thoughts, words, and imagination. The BMW Art Car #20 reveal in Paris was uplifting and inspiring. Congratulations to all parties involved.

To complete your stay in “The City of Light,” make sure to rest your head at the artsy 5-star lifestyle-focused SO / Paris Hotel, eat at least once at Le Train Bleu gourmet restaurant, and tour the mesmerizing Bourse de Commerce museum to witness the iconic works from the Pinault Collection. Travel iconic!

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